I’m going to continue talking about contradictions in the bible, and the silly excuses that people give to try and correct the “inerrant” word of the world’s longest running game of ‘telephone’. In this edition, we’ll be talking about the birth story of Jesus. As I’ve mentioned before, most Christians have absolutely no idea what is actually in their bible. So they’re just hanging on what preachers are telling them without an ounce of investigation. As you will notice, the bible says something completely different than what modern Christians think of the nativity.
So first off, we know for a fact that the four gospels are NOT eyewitness testimonies. This is seriously so easy to tell. You don’t need a PhD in biblical studies or be able to read ancient Greek. You just have to read it. I’ve said this before so I’ll keep this short, but it is impossible for one person to have followed Jesus and his family around and witnessed all the conversations that took place between everyone else in the story. A single eyewitness would not have heard angels talk to Mary and Joseph, Herod talking to his inner circle, Apostles talking to Jesus alone, and Jesus talking to himself in the wilderness. The gospels are stories, not eyewitness accounts.
Also, the writer of Luke specifically says he isn’t an eyewitness, but a recorder of other’s accounts. So there’s that….
So, let’s see what Matthew and Luke have to say about the birth of Jesus. (Mark and John do not mention the nativity story.)
- Jesus born in Bethlehem, where his parents live.
- Magi travel from the east, talk to Herod, who sends them to find Jesus
- Magi follow a star to a house, Jesus and family are inside
- Joseph told by angel to escape Herod in Egypt.
- Herod kills every child under 2 years old.
- Herod dies, Joseph and family return from Egypt, but fearing Herod’s son decide not to return home and settle in Nazareth instead.
- Joseph and family live in Nazareth, but have to travel to Bethlehem for a census during Quirinius’ reign
- Jesus born, manger used for a bed because no room in town
- Shepherds were told by angels about Jesus, and they went and saw him
- Eight days after birth, Jesus is circumcised.
- Jesus taken to Jerusalem for purification rites, which is by Mosaic law supposed to happen on the same day as circumcision, but apparently was delayed a day or two.
- Joseph and Family return to Nazareth.
These two timelines are completely at odds with each other. One has Jesus back in Nazareth growing up after a few weeks, while the other has their home in Bethlehem for almost two years, and then exiled to Egypt for an undetermined time, and then finally returning and moving to Nazareth.
I actually discussed this with a Christian one time that told me that since each is an eyewitness account (which we know they aren’t), they each have a different part of the story, and the actual timeline should go Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, back to Nazareth, then back to Bethlehem for a census, then Egypt, and then Nazareth again. This attempt to square the two stories is almost believable, except to follow this timeline JESUS IS BORN TWICE.
Matthew specifically says the Magi find Jesus at a house. And the bible says the information they gave to Herod about their travel and the star left Herod to believe the child was under 2 years old. So Jesus would have been a toddler, running around and tripping, instead of lying in a manger.
Quirinius began his rule in 6 CE. Herod died in 4 BCE. Jesus was already a tot and living in Egypt when Herod died, which means by Matthew, Jesus was born no earlier than 6 BCE, but Luke has him born after 6 CE. That’s a 12 year difference at a minimum. Obviously, at least one of the writers had something completely wrong. And since neither of them indicated in what year Jesus was born (like everywhere else in the bible where they say “during the x year of so-and-so”), we can fault both accounts of sloppy reporting and unreliability.
Whoever wrote Matthew committed an obvious fraud in his attempt to make Jesus “fulfill prophesy.” He said Jesus came back from Egypt to fulfill the prophesy “out of Egypt I call my son”, only there is no such prophesy. The actual reference for this phrase is when God called Moses out of Egypt in Exodus. It wasn’t prophesy at all, it was a story of an event that already occurred. This demonstrates that Matthew is not a reliable source for history at all, since he was willing to make up stories to bolster the legitimacy of Jesus. Matthew’s reported slaughter of all Bethlehem males under the age of two is also made up.
Also of note, Nazareth was settled after the first century, which means it didn’t exist during the supposed time of Jesus. This means that the bible writers would have known about Nazareth, but Jesus never could have. And since it didn’t exist at the time, we know both of their accounts are at least in error, and possibly fictional.
So Christians believe the birth of Jesus is the most important day in the world, and is celebrated and re-told every year to great pomp and circumstance. Yet despite the supposed significance, the little manger sticker people put on their car is completely at odds with the event in the book they claim they got it from. It is actually two completely different and contradictory stories that chronologically can not be rectified. They date the event over a decade apart, they invent fulfilled prophesies, they reference major astronomical and genocidal events that nobody noticed, and they placed him in a city that didn’t exist.
The greatest story ever told? Try the greatest con-job.
The Spartan Atheist